Long gone are the days when women gave birth in a sterile hospital room while the anxious father waited outside. The past generation of new moms has enjoyed amenities more akin to a nice hotel. Now, Sanford Health has started upgrading its birthing suites to include low-intervention birth rooms that create a more home-like feel.
Erin Vande Lune, a certified nurse midwife with Sanford Health, said there are the seven main benefits to women looking for a more natural birth setting:
- Comfort: Research shows that when moms feel safe, comfortable and relaxed in their environment, their body is allowed to move in the physiological way that it was created to. These rooms help create such a setting.
- Emergency care: In a low-intervention birth room, women can feel like they are in the comfortable setting of their own home, but have access to all of the resources that the hospital can provide should the need arise.
- Multiple positions: The room is built so moms don’t have to lay on their back during labor. The bed becomes another tool because it can easily be moved out of the way during labor and moved back again after the birth to allow mom and baby to begin bonding. A hook on the ceiling allows women to use a sling, or the open floor space offers plenty of room for use of a birthing ball.
- Tub: A large whirlpool tub in each room offers women the opportunity to labor and deliver in warm water maintained at a safe temperature for both mom and baby. Three sides of the tub extend from the wall to give nurses and other caregivers access so they can support moms or help them move a more comfortable position.
- Mood: The room’s aesthetics all work together to create a relaxing mood. Warm colors, artwork and adjustable lighting all help create a calm atmosphere. A privacy screen can be used to block views and noise from the hallway.
- Nurse support: Women are assigned a nurse, as they are in a traditional or other labor room, but they respect the mom’s space. Nurses are trained in labor support, so if they can see that a mom is in an uncomfortable position or needs to try something different, they’re available to help.
- Other support: Sanford Health’s low-intervention rooms give women 24-hour access to a multi-discipline care team, with one midwife and one OB/GYN physician always on duty. Both providers are keeping tabs of where women are in their labor process. That means they’re close if trouble arises with the mom or baby. The rooms are built with hookups for a newborn warmer and oxygen hookups hidden behind the artwork, if they’re needed.
“We are so excited to offer our low intervention birth rooms as another option here at Sanford. We love that women have access to choose a setting that creates the sense of comfort that comes from being at home, while at the same time gives them access to all of the resources that the hospital has to offer. It is our privilege to be with them in labor and help the achieve the goals and expectations that they have for their birth,” Vande Lune said.
Answering questions about water birth
Is it safe to deliver a baby in the tub? Research says yes. Multiple studies have found that giving birth in water is both safe and beneficial to certain mothers and babies. The prolonged stay in warm water combined with the absence of gravity on the mother’s perineum will make the tissues more supple. This may have the effect of reducing the risk of pelvic floor tearing or trauma.
Can the baby drown? The answer is no. It’s important to note that in a water birth attended by certified nurse midwives, infants aren’t kept under water after birth. They are slowly brought to the surface by the mother or midwife. Many natural reflexes prevent the baby from breathing under water. The four main reasons newborns do not take their first breath under water are:
- A mild lack of oxygen called hypoxia delays breathing.
- Fetal lungs are already filled with fluid.
- Infants have a dive reflex, holding their breath when submerged in water.
- The hormone prostaglandin E2 restricts the baby’s ability to breathe immediately after birth.
Which moms can deliver in water? While water can be beneficial for almost every mother in labor, some women can be excluded from delivering in the water under specific circumstances. To deliver in water, a woman must:
- Be at least 37 weeks gestation.
- Have a head-down baby.
- Have no medical risks, such as excessive vaginal bleeding, maternal fever, non-reassuring fetal heart rate, preeclampsia or thick meconium fluid (baby’s first bowel movement).
- Have only one baby in utero.